A FAB Idea

More than half of the world’s adult population lack access to formal financial services. Bhagwan Chowdhry, UCLA Anderson Professor of Finance, proposes a FAB idea to tackle the issue. Financial Access at Birth (FAB) is a social and economic innovation that seeks financial inclusion. According to Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, where FAB is housed, “Full financial inclusion is a state in which all people who can use them have access to a full suite of quality financial services, provided at affordable prices, in a convenient manner, and with dignity for the clients. Financial services are delivered by a range of providers, most of them private, and reach everyone who can use them, including disabled, poor, and rural populations.”

The Economist, CNN, Forbes, Fast Company, Smart Money, and others, featured FAB because of its compelling aim to give every child at birth a unique universal ID that connects to a saving account with a small initial deposit. The account created and the financial identity secured will create an infrastructure as a humanitarian delivery channel. This delivery channel can be used for providing information, health, education, and emergency aid to the last-mile population.

The Paganucci Fellows Program – a summer internship for Dartmouth students held at the Tuck School of Business – has taken on the role of conducting a feasibility study on FAB in Ghana, a potential first location for FAB. This program empowers five Dartmouth undergraduates who wish to make a difference in the world with the unique opportunity to utilize resources and mentorship at Tuck. The stated goal of the program is to “support Tuck’s efforts to study complex social issues and the ways in which businesses can create positive social and financial value; in effect, the ‘double bottom line’.” As a team, Paganucci Fellows are pursuing a global development consulting project to fuel their passion for international development and to acquire skills that will help pursuing future endeavors in social services.

In the process of conducting the feasibility study on FAB in Ghana, the Paganucci Fellows have defined key questions that the FAB model must resolve prior to implementing a pilot program. The team is also working on a website launch strategy as FAB rolls out a public relations campaign in association with its appearance in the final season of the popular HBO series Entourage this August. Paganucci Fellows are also responsible for developing a strategy and preliminary invitation lists for the global consultations that FAB plans to conduct beginning in Fall 2011.

So far the research has been conducted using web-based secondary sources and a series of interviews based in Hanover. Some of the interviewees include Ghanaian students (both in Ghana and at Dartmouth), Dartmouth and Tuck Professors, World Bank employees, and NGO founders in Ghana – Dana Dakin, founder of WomensTrust, and Ben Schwartz, Dartmouth College ‘06, founder of World Partners in Education. These interviews have been informative about the context in Ghana regarding FAB and have helped the team to prepare a preliminary feasibility analysis for the country.

The Paganucci Fellows hope to resolve some of their questions in Ghana in order to ensure that FAB rolls out in its most effective and efficient form. The team is hopeful that the journey can be one of the first few steps for the budding FAB to improve the quality of millions of lives.